Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 10 March 2024

 Maudie the wonder dog (Maudie the slumber dog, more like) has grown tired of Fetch and Catch. Now, if we chuck a ball or a rope toy, she might pick it up if she feels like it, but rather than drop it for it to be thrown again, she runs off with it expecting us to chase her. Chase is the game of the moment. A couple of nights ago, while pursuing the silly hound through our yard, Leisa spotted a snake. Not surprising, Castle Hill is our bush backdrop. Luckily, Maudie didn’t notice it: “Oh goody, a rope shaped playmate!” And then this morning, the answer to one of my word puzzle lines was snake. And now, glancing at this week’s lectionary readings so that I can gloat over what I don’t have to preach on, what features prominently? Yes, snakes.

In the Bible and in iconography, the devil, Satan, is often represented as a snake. “Snakey substances” as Dudley Moore and Peter Cook of blessèd memory called them, in a side-splitting skit on the Garden of Eden. Not very fair on those beautiful and necessary creatures, but then the various writers didn’t have a balanced eco-system as the purpose of their books, or only obliquely. Genesis 3 and Lenten readings notwithstanding, temptation is not the devil’s primary work. It is accusation. “God doesn’t love you because you’re a …” insert bad person of choice. Many of these epithets are not anywhere mentioned in scripture as bad people. But if the object of Satan’s accusation doubts their salvation or that God loves them unconditionally in Christ, the old snake has achieved his purpose.

Revelation 12 describes the ultimate antivenin: “The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray … Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now has come the salvation … of our God … For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;’”

OK, you might not be up to that picture’s word of your testimony, but every time you remember that Our Lord’s blood is shed for you, you specifically, in all your “You-ness”, you’ve defanged the snake.


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